Bris (1817 - 1872)
In 1856, two French naval
officers accomplished brief though uncontrolled flight,
Felix duTemple and Jean-Marie Le Bris who built a
glider shaped like an albatross, a bird he had studied on
his sea voyages.
Charcoal of Le Bris by H.
The body of the craft,
which would support the pilot, was shaped like a canoe. Each
narrow, arching wing was 23 feet (7 meters) long and
adjustable by pulleys and cords. They provided a lifting
surface of 215 square feet (20 square meters).
Le Bris : The Albatross,
Le Bris tested his first
aircraft in 1857 and successfully made a short glide on his
first try, but a second attempt resulted in a crash and a
broken leg. By 1868, Le Bris had developed a second, larger
version of his glider, which made several successful manned
test flights before it crashed and was destroyed.
Le Bris' Patent
"...Le Bris's first
experiment was conducted on a public road at Trefeuntec,
near Douarnenez. Believing, like Count D' Esterno that it
was necessary that the apparatus should have an initial
velocity of its own, in addition to that of the wind, he
chose a Sunday morning, when there was a good 10-knot breeze
from the right direction, and setting his artificial
albatross horizontally on a cart, he started down the road
against the brisk wind, the cart being driven by a peasant.
The bird, with extended
wings, 50 ft. across, was held down by a rope passing under
the rails of the cart and terminating in a slip knot
fastened to Le Bris's wrist, so that with one jerk he could
loosen the attachment and allow the rope to run. He stood
upright in the canoe, unencumbered in his movements, his
hands being on the levers and depressing the front edge of
the wings, so that the wind should press upon the top only
and hold them down, their position being, moreover,
temporarily maintained by assistants walking along on each
only did he obtain something like an ascension, by starting
from a light wagon, which was not in motion. He was on the
levee of the port of commerce at Brest, the breeze was
light, and the gathered public was impatient, through
failure to realize that success depended wholly on the
intensity of the wind.
Le Bris was hoping for a
gust which should enable him to rise; he thought it had
come, pulled on his levers, and thus threw his wings to the
most favourable angle, but he only ascended a dozen yards,
glided scarcely twice that distance, and after this brief
demonstration came gently to the ground without any jerk."
Le Bris Replica by M. Jenö